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OP/ED: Grand Forks Councillor says trails project a bonus for city - one we can't afford to lose

An overview of the proposed trails project; Photo, submitted

Chris Moslin has been a city councillor for Grand Forks since 2005 and headed up trails development prior to his role as councillor.

The City of Grand Forks has the once in a lifetime opportunity to TRIPLE our legacy dollars by matching them with grants from the provincial and federal governments! If these grants are not spent in Grand Forks, they will be spent somewhere else. Let’s keep the money here!


If someone tells you that we cannot afford to spend money on pedestrian infrastructure tell them they are wrong. The truth is – we cannot afford not to! There is no other way the city can improve sidewalks and trails for seniors, children, the disabled, and tourists as substantially as the Recreational Infrastructure Canada grant allows us to do.


If you are a senior this project will enable your access around town and to our riversides.


If you are the parent of a small child attending Perley or Hutton this project will improve your child’s safety on the way to school.


If you are disabled this project will improve your access to the downtown core as well as to churches, hospitals, and our beaches.


If you have a business that relies on tourism this project will demonstrate to visitors that our community is a ‘memorable/ place to visit and to experience.


If you are a resident of South Ruckle or Boundary Lodge or Abbeyfield this project will improve your access to the downtown core, and the highway.


If you love our waterfront and enjoy an active lifestyle this project will give you access to countless kilometers of trails inside our city and outside.


If you are a gardener than this project will provide a pedestrian route to the new community gardens.


If you are worried about the environment this project will take cars off the road and help clean our air.


If you are visitor looking for a place to enjoy nature and to participate in a culturally active community this is the project for you.


Say YES to our future – support the city’s plan to finance this project without raising taxes!

 

Supporting the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) Alternate Approval Process


The Vision:
This is a one time opportunity to create a memorable ‘green’ city by leveraging approved provincial and federal grants to develop a network of pedestrian and bike routes that connects all neighbor hoods to downtown, schools, hospitals and recreational facilities.


The History:
• In 2008, the Grand Forks Community Trails Society applied to the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust for funds to deck the Black Train Bridge and to develop a pedestrian route from South Ruckle to Highway 3. Eventually, the society was awarded $18,000 from SIDIT and $17,000 from the Trans Canada Trail Foundation
• In April 2009 the 39th Combat Engineer Squadron decked the Black Train Bridge. In the fall a galvanized hand rail was added.
• In 2009 the city applied for federal funding to complete a ‘shovel ready’ project (meaning it had to be able to be started immediately.) The city already had a $700,000 provincial grant and was hoping to get a further grants of $200,000 for dyking improvements along the south shore of the Kettle River.
• The federal government awarded the city $930,000, but the provincial dyking monies did not arrive.

The project:
• Crushed gravel trail with lighting and benches along city land from the Black Train Bridge to 66th in South Ruckle, the site of the new Community Garden;
• creates a wheel chair ramp on the south side of the Black Train Bridge;
• improved trail surface, lighting and benches on the Trans Canada Trail from Kettle River Drive to the highway including wheel chair access on Highway 3;
• improved pedestrian route from the Black Train Bridge to the 9th street along the river side of Kettle River Drive;
• new sidewalks along 9th street through to 73rd avenue creating a wheel chair ramp up to the Sacred Heart Church on lands that are city owned road access; 
• improved sidewalks on 73rd avenue to Perley elementary school;
• completion of the multi-use trail to the North Fork Road. 

The opportunity:
• Uses a $700,000 ‘LocalMotion’ provincial grant awarded to the city to build its urban pedestrian infrastructure;
• uses a $930,000 Recreational Infrastructure grant from the federal government;
• compliments $35,000 of fund raising completed by the trails groups and spent on the decking of the Black Train Bridge;
• uses the cheapest financing available in the country through the Municipal Financing Authority, currently at 1.4%. This debt can be paid with part of the incoming Slag funds over the next 15 years so that there is no increase in taxes.

The benefit:
• Increased pedestrian access across town on safe scenic green routes;
• cuts down on the reliance of the single-occupant vehicle and encourages people to walk rather than drive;
• gives safe walking access to seniors who would otherwise have to walk on the side of the road;
• creates a more active healthy community;
• invites community access to Kettle River beaches;
• increases residential property values and invites future housing investment;
• provides temporary employment for 20 laid off forestry workers for two years;
• provides long-term employment for 2 full time jobs.

The Challenges:
• The AAP needs to be approved. Unfortunately, an AAP needs only 10 % of the voters to say NO. Voters who would approve the project do not get to vote.
• The project must be completed by March 2011. In fact half of the federal funding must be spent by March 2010.